The Beginning, and Some Honest Thoughts

NaNoWriMo begins tonight at midnight! As usual, I will be taking a nap this afternoon so that I’m fresh and ready for 50k Day One. I have managed to convince a few others from my region to join me, so we’ll see how we fare. If you want to follow my progress, you can do so here, as I am planning to update the sheet every hour. Here is last year’s, for comparison 🙂 We will also be tweeting and instagramming under the hashtags #50kKillMeNow and #50kDayOne, so feel free to follow there as well (my handle on both is africanstardust, big shocker). As always, encouraging messages throughout the day are so appreciated and I love you all for sending them! I may not reply right away (because the typing) but believe me, I read every one.

I’ve realized over the past few days how much NaNoWriMo has gotten me through. I do it because I love it, yes, but it means so much more to me than that. The first year I did it I was so isolated and alone because of extenuating circumstances, and it gave me a beautiful community of random strangers who made the effort of checking my blog to encourage me and urge me on. Two years ago, I was dealing with emotional trauma and feeling like my whole world had fallen apart, and NaNoWriMo was literally the bridge that helped me get to the other side. And this year, I’ve had so many ups and downs, the accident, feeling utterly overwhelmed with academics, and dealing with depression and hopelessness.

NaNo is the time of the year when we give ourselves a gift: the gift of permission to lose ourselves in writing. It’s when we set other things aside and look after our creative souls and make time for this precious, beautiful thing, no matter how busy we are. It has played a huge part in restoring me to myself in the past, and I hope that, wherever you are and whatever you’re going through, it does the same for you. Let yourself sink into the beauty of what writing is and what it means for your soul. Allow yourself to grow and push and go to new places you haven’t been before. Set yourself free. So, from me to you: happy writing.

Veronique / africanstardust

NaNoWriMo: The Plan

This year’s NaNo is going to be different than the others. I don’t have a whole month of no academics. On the contrary, because of the accident and the protests, during November I will be writing two 5,000 word essays, catching up with a ton of translation, writing two tests, and hopefully making good progress on my 15,000 word thesis. The amount of work I have to do is pretty real, but with good time management I can definitely do it.

So although I kind of mentioned it in my previous post, here is my plan:
-5k+ a day after the 1st
-a grand total of 200k in November.

I don’t know if that will happen (I’m not counting my essays and thesis), but I’m going to do my best!

My project this year is a giant, sprawling science fiction novel called The Riverside. It’s sort of a cross between The Matrix and Interstellar, so we’ll see how that goes…I’ve never written science fiction before. If it completely fails and I get bored with it, I also have a few other backup projects I can work on, most of which are high fantasy. I just kind of wanted to break out of my comfort zone this year and try something new, but I think it’s good to have a fall back haha. There are also two romance novels thrown in the mix, so basically we’ll see what happens as the month progresses.

The Plan, as usual, is to make snacks and food on the 31st, then take a nap in the early evening, hopefully from around 6 to 10 or 11. I’m doing this year’s 50k Day One without coffee because I gave it up about a month ago, so I feel pretty nervous about it, but I’m hoping that if I drink lots of water and get up often to stretch and do jumping jacks, I’ll be able to stay awake. I definitely don’t want to accidentally nap for 6 hours like I did last year…it was hell to catch up.

If you’re doing NaNo, let me know! Only 4 days to go!!

NaNoWriMo 2015: So It Begins

NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-Square*skips in* Guess what time it is! Whoop whoop, that’s write – that pun will never cease to be on this blog, deal with it :’) – it’s NaNoWriMo time! I almost can’t believe it’s already here…it kind of snuck up on me this year because of how crazy everything has been, but I’m so glad it has finally arrived again. If you don’t know what on earth I’m talking about, please visit and educate yo’self. I’ve been blogging about NaNo for 6 years now, so I’m not going to repeat everything I’ve already said, but you can find all my NaNo posts here, my first-ever NaNo accounts here, and 2013’s NaNo (which was the year I posted the most helpful tips) here.

My NaNo goals: As per usual, I will be doing 50k Day One again, which is potentially a bad idea considering how much work I have to do, but whatever, it’s happening. I was going to try for The Million this year, but due to my accident earlier in the semester, I’m going to have quite a lot of academic work to do during November, so The Million will have to wait. I’ll probably go for 5k-ish a day after Day One – this will get me to almost 200k, which is my goal for this year.

If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s not too late! Just head over to the site (link above) to get started. If you have signed up, make sure you’ve set your home region, have introduced yourself in the home region forums, and have created your novel. In 8 days, we begin! 🙂

NaNo TB-non-T: 2014

the healer's curse coverAnd now we come to 2014 🙂 I’ve posted quite a few shorter excerpts from Shard, but I thought I’d post some from my World of Warcraft fanfiction, The Healer’s Curse, which I wrote on my 50k Day One (so the whole thing is a bit wordy). These are the only parts that will ever see the light of day, so feel privileged! Bit of background for those of you who don’t play WoW: Edethra (on the cover) is a troll restoration druid (healer). Death knights are people from all races who died, were raised to life and enslaved by the Lich King, and who then rebelled against him. They are not popular in the lore, however, since they did play a big part in killing thousands of innocent people before they broke free from the Lich King’s hold. Blood elves = high elves who were corrupted by arcane magic and who still use it but don’t let it control them (oversimplified explanation, but oh well). Durotar = desert land where the orcs, tauren, and trolls come from. Orgrimmar = capital city of Durotar. Vol’jin = leader of the trolls and the one who eventually overthrows the orc warchief. Pandaria = the misty, hidden continent where the previous expansion took place.

Death Knight
Death Knight

Excerpt 1

“In the meantime, we need to find you a good horse. Come with me. Can you ride?”

“I can ride raptors, so I imagine riding a horse will much easier,” Edethra replied.

He could not help laughing at that one. “Yes, the raptors. Mangy little beats, are they not? Yet one does grow to love them. In any case, yes, a horse is much easier to ride, or at least it was for me. Some trolls find the sudden calm unsettling. Then again, a horse is a good, intelligent creature. You can trust them while you are riding; if they do not want to go forward, it is a bad idea to make them go forward, because more likely than not there is a threat lying in wait for you that the horse can sense.”

“Always listen to the horse,” Edethra summed up. “I will remember. I have heard that they are highly intelligent, but the only horse I ever really saw was Kilthael’s hellfire steed, and he was too terrifying for me to get to know.”


“One of my friends. He is a death knight.”

He raised an eyebrow. “You are friends with a blood elf death knight? How curious. Although I have heard that I that you druids have a particular affinity for them. Why is that?”

“I think it is because they are a manifestation of nature, just we are. Death is natural, after all, is it not? Why should we be afraid of it? So I think we druids have an affinity for them because just as we demonstrate what nature is like and how she thinks and acts and does, so do they. In any case, they were once people, just like all of us. It is not their fault that they were forced into submission by the Lich King. And I know that there are still many who serve him, but almost none who have had the chance of leaving his service have stayed with him. Is that not true?”

“Yes, you do bring up a good point. But still, I am not sure I could ever really be friends with one.”

Edethra smiled knowingly. “Then you do not know what you are missing. There is much to be learned from those who have been dead and who have lived to tell the tale.”

Excerpt 2


Finally she took a deep breath and, gathering the reigns, she urged the yak forward, and it made its way down the golden red slope toward the village she had adored so much once in her youth. As she neared the village, she could tell even from a distance that they noticed her, and continued to notice her. Some children had been playing outside the spiked fences of the main gate, and they stopped to stare at her wide eyed. Several adult trolls and one orc had been having a somewhat heated conversation by the guard post, and they, too, stopped what they were doing and turned to look at her. No one seemed hostile, but all seemed curious and in wonder.

Edethra rode to the small stables just inside the main gate, where several raptors were tied up. When they saw the yak they strained at their leashed like wild dogs, yapping and growling, snapping their drooling jaws at the animal. The yak, however, who was at least twice their size, merely stared at them with half closed eyes and made little snorting noises. Edethra dismounted and went to the stable hand.

“Excuse me,” she said, and the troll stared at her for a moment before replying. She knew her accent was greatly changed from the usual troll accent; she had been in many places and spoken to many different kinds of people, different races, even those in the Alliance, and one cannot experience so great a variety without being affected by it in some way.

“Hello there, mon,” the troll finally responded. What can I do for ya?”

“I need to keep the yak here for now, until I know what my plans are. Do you know how to take care of these?”

“Aye, mon. I jus’ came back from Pandaria myself. I can care for him, ya.”

“You?” she asked in surprise, and with an unexpected sense of relief. This bothered her a little; after all, Sen’jin was her home. She should feel relief just to be back here. Shouldn’t she?

Aye mon. Dey sent me over der to do some fightin’ but I wasn’t much good at it, so here I am.”

“I see. Well thank you, then. Can you tell me where Vol’jin is? I understand I am meant to meet him.”

“Certainly mon. But don’ be spreadin’ it ‘round that he’s here. Some of dese orcs shouldn’t know too much, if ya catch my drift.”

Edethra frowned at him and for a brief moment they exchanged a mutual glance of understanding and shared knowledge. Trouble was brewing. Even if Sen’jin remained peaceful, Edethra had passed through Razor Hill to get here, and the unrest there and in Orgrimmar, not to mention in Pandaria, was not only tangible, but obvious and out in the open. They had to be careful now. Edethra nodded and followed the way he pointed, but walked slowly so that the few orcs standing around would not notice anything odd about her behavior. They did take note of her, but in the same way that the trolls did, and they seemed more in admiration than anything else, staring at her armor and especially at her staff with the strange, swirling mist it carried with it. She ignored them, however, her opinion of them tainted heavily at the moment by things she knew had nothing to do with them. Nevertheless, she walked past at her leisure, looking around at everything.

She did notice with some interest that she was not the only returned warrior here. Several others stood around – and not only healers like her, but of all classes and specialties. Warriors, paladins, hunters, rogues. There were not many, perhaps twenty or so that she could see, and they stood in shadowed areas. Some wore armor, and some wore tunics and leather that were still out of place, being in the style of Pandaria and certainly not of Durotar or, indeed, any country whether in the Eastern Kingdoms or Kalimdor. As she walked past they nodded at her in acknowledgement, and some seemed to recognize her and gave a little bow. She acknowledged each of them in turn, and finally came to the little hut where Vol’jin was apparently staying in concealment.

NaNo TB-non-T: 2013

NaNo 2011 was a total crash and burn, so much so that for the longest time I couldn’t even remember what my novel idea was. Blame it on the first year of university. Anyway…apparently I wrote about 2,000 words of the novel I restarted in 2012, Prin Ten Arken: Before the Beginning. So, moving on to 2013, since I already posted a 2012 TBT.

2013 was The Hilt and the Blade, which is also part of the Kirael series and takes place right before the Shard trilogy.

Excerpt 1

Adyah glared at him with fiery eyes, her weapon ready in her hands. The fierce wind blowing up from the chasm and swirling around them was deafening, and it was dark except for the moonlight. She felt vulnerable without Alerone, but she also knew her own capabilities. She had not been sent as the representative of her clan to the Red Clearing for nothing.

“Who are you?” came a deep, loud voice, strong enough that she could hear him over the noise of the wind. “What do you want?”

“It is no business of yours!” she replied, shouting as loudly as she could. “All that I require of you is to let me pass!”

“I cannot,” came the answer. The man began inching his way closer to her, fighting against the wind.

She grasped the hilt of her sword tightly, refusing to back down. “I will not yield,” she warned. “I will not flee from you. I will fight.”

He was close now. “That is what I intend.” He raised his sword above his head and brought it down with a great, resonating clang as it met with her blade. The strength he felt in her arm as she wielded the sword impressed him, and he realized he had perhaps underestimated her. For a moment, neither of them moved. A cloud that had been shrouding the moon gently glided away, and the full light of it washed over them, lighting their eyes with that strange blue flame that only moonlight can bring. Immediately her eyes fell to his armor, and abruptly she lowered her blade, staring at the insignia on his breastplate. Something deterred him from taking advantage of the situation and finishing her off, and he waited to see what she would do.

“Are you of the Crystal City?” she asked, raising her eyes to his.

“Yes,” he said slowly. “I thought you knew that.”

“Quick,” she said, grabbing his wrist, “I need your help.”

Before he could protest she pulled him towards the rim of the basin, surprisingly agile over the jagged and loose rocks. He held back and jerked his arm away from her, and she turned to face him, a look of mixed annoyance and puzzlement on her face. Another cloud passed over the moon and he could only see her silhouette.

“What is it?” she asked somewhat impatiently.

“What do you mean, ‘what is it’? A moment ago it was my intent to kill you, and apparently your intent to kill me, and now you want my help. I am not unwilling to help you, but then you must tell me who you are. For all I know you are an enemy.” He could not see her face in the shadows, and she stood perfectly still and silent for a few moments.

“I am a servant of the Crystal Blade and of the one who created it. Is that enough?”

He stared at her figure, surprised. What an odd way to answer a question…surely if she were the enemy, she would have had a much more common explanation. And to speak in such a way, to sound like the legends of old…

“Very well,” he answered finally. “Lead the way.”

Adyah turned and continued up the slope to the basin’s rim, very aware that she was being foolish by turning her back on someone who had just tried to kill her and who still had a ready weapon in his hands. But she was desperate. They were able to go faster and faster the further away they ran from the chasm and the wind, and finally they pulled themselves up over the rim and were happy to feel solid ground beneath their feet again.

Excerpt 2

Adyah, with her whole head wrapped in a white bandage, was sitting upright on one of the beds, arguing with a perfectly well meaning physician who clearly knew better than she did about what state she was in, but who was apparently unable to convince her. At the sight of his sister so badly injured and blood seeping even through the thick bandage Jack was filled with dread and pity, but hearing her argue so vehemently he was sure that she would be all right.

“I’ve told you, you cannot possibly continue fighting-“

“I’m sorry, do I have some sort of time limit stamped on my forehead? Do I look like I can’t keep fighting? Because I can keep fighting.”

“It’s not a question of fatigue, it’s a question of-“

“What?! What did you say? Fatigue? Are you saying I’m too fatigued? I’m not too fatigued, you hopeless, uneducated bumpkin. I don’t get fatigued. Do you know who I am? I’m going to fight, and I’d like to see you stop me.”

“As I said, it’s not a question of that, but with that head injury and how severe it is, I simply don’t see-“

”I can see you don’t see! If you could see then you would be able to see that I’m not tired at all and that it’s only a minor head wound and I can keep going! I can’t even feel anything! How can you tell me it’s a serious head wound when I can’t even feel anything?

“It might have something to do with the bottle of medicinal spirits you downed thinking it was brandy!” the physician said, raising his voice for the first time.

Jack decided it was time to step in. “Hello, Adyah. How are you feeling?” He eyed the pool of blood soaking into the bandage and knew that the physician was right and there was no way she could continue in the battle.

“I’m perfectly fine, as I’m trying to tell this physician of yours. Shouldn’t you be more carefully about who you allow to treat patients in this place? I mean honestly, he doesn’t know what he’s doing and he’s telling me I can’t fight, and I know I can fight. I know I can.”

Jack looked at the physician. “I am sorry. Would you excuse us for a moment?” he asked.

Gladly, sir. Gladly.” With that the physician stepped away and went out of the tent.

“Adyah…” Jack knelt in front of her and looked her in the eye. He knew she knew, but he also knew that she was a lot like him, and he knew he would be saying the same things if he were in her position. “You know he’s right.”

Her eyes became moist and she winced again, for the first time showing her pain. “Ugh. I know. I feel like a cannon ball was shot into my skull.”

“It’s all right. There will be other battles. For now you have to rest, all right?”

She nodded. “If you say so. Just tell the doctor to mind his own business and stop yelling at me. It hurts my head.”

Jack nodded. “All right. rest.You’ll be fine.”

He left the tent and grinned at the physician. “She says she’ll rest.”